Russia proposes language test for immigrant workers

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In a legislative draft put forward by two members of Russia's parliament, migrants planning to work longer than a year in Russia will be required to pass a Russian language test. Russia is currently dealing with controversy over high levels of immigration, mostly from former Soviet Union countries. Conflicts with migrants from Georgia have specifically been reported on in the last year.

The draft has the support of Russia's Federal Migration Service. "We have an interest in this and support the lawmakers' initiative. It is obvious that, without knowledge of the Russian language, it is impossible to integrate into Russian society," they said.

Policy makers say the recent influx of migrant workers into Russia has caused some resentment with migrants, and illegal migrants in particular, being perceived as a source of economic hardship for Russians in some regions. Russia recently barred all foreigners from working in outdoor markets. There have been a number of attacks upon migrants, as well as fights between native Russians and migrants along ethnic and racial divisions.

Language tests are nothing new for popular migrant destinations; Australia, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom all have language evaluation tests for many immigration- and work-based visas. However, they are generally reserved for those on the path toward permanent residency or naturalization.

Alexander Krutov, co-author of the draft, says there would be exceptions to the rule. Migrant workers employed by foreign firms would not be required to take the test. All others would be required to take the test within three months of arriving.

If they fail the test, they will be barred from working, although they will have an option of taking the test again.

The proposal would need to be approved by both houses of parliament and President Vladimir Putin to become law.


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